Rehab, My Road to Recovery: Suddenly, I'm not in Kansas Anymore (part 3)
There was no magic about November 5th, 1977. I didn't pass any test, no recovery milestone occurred, and I wasn't feeling better. Regardless of my situation, a room at Fresno Community Hospital opened up, and it was mine to take or lose forever. So without fanfare, a team from American Ambulance showed up and I was off to rehab. Ready or not, I was leaving the darkness of Post Intensive Care, and sauntering into the great unknown. I felt like the new kid in school; a combination of fear and excitement, but I was leaving an ugly neighborhood and was damn happy to watch it in the rear view mirror. At the hospital, I was met by a team that took me on a gurney to the 6th floor. I parked in a sterile room that resembled a locker room shower. Two nurses came in and welcomed me saying, "we are going to wash your hair." Understand, my open wound on the top of my head was huge and took 48 stitches to close. My melon was shaved on top and caked in dried blood, scabs, and remnants of stitches and crud. It was so tender, nobody had touched it in 34 days and the sides of my head were greasy and ratted. It looked and smelled nasty and had a pretty cruel consequence. I would lay in bed at night and sob because chunks of my head would fall into my eyes and face and lay there, itching like crazy. I couldn't move my arms and scratch, so I just laid there and itched. . . until November 5th. I was flat on my back and they grabbed a shower hose of warm water. The water was shocking at first, but once I felt the warmth, well, it was euphoric. I felt clumps of crap falling out of my hair and off of my head. It was thirty minutes of erotic therapy on my noggin. I'll never forget it and was bummed when they stopped. They took me to my new room to chill for night one.
When I woke up, I was pretty pleased with my new surroundings. It was private, which was awesome. It was also large, like a suite so you could have as many visitors as you wanted, something I tested often. Since my first full day was a Sunday, it was quiet and slow. I got my inservice and would start my regimen on Monday, but got to acclimate on that particularly quiet first day. I learned three things that day that made me feel like I had come out of the tornado and into the Land of Oz. First, I got to wear my own clothes. They dressed me in some cords and a t-shirt my mom had brought and it felt like a tux for the prom. Second, I could decorate the room, including bringing my stereo. I must say, getting to look at posters of Jaclyn Smith and Farrah Fawcett while blaring Earth, Wind, and Fire was a great way to face a 5 month rehab program. But the third thing was pretty amazing. A 22 year old dude walked in and said he would be my orderly during my time. He recognized my last name and we discovered that our fathers taught together in the 60's. He told me his name was Flindt and we are friends to this day. What happened during those 5 months with Flindt at the helm made my decision to do my rehab at home one of the smartest things we could have done.